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Article: Migraine | Headache Treatment | Migraine Supplements

Migraine

Author: Dr. Veena Deo

Migraine is a common condition that affects about 2% of males and 6% of females at some point in their lives.

Migraine: A condition marked by recurrent, usually unilateral severe headache often accompanied by nausea and vomiting, followed by sleep. It tends to occur in more than one member of a family and is of uncertain origin, though attacks appear to be precipitated by dilation of intracranial blood vessels.

Migraine usually occurs before the age of 40. Some patients refer to any episodic paroxysmal headache as a migraine.

Types of Migraine:

  1. Classical
  2. Common

Classical Migraine: This type presents with a triad of symptoms: paroxysmal headache, nausea and/or vomiting, and an aura of focal neurological events (usually visual). Symptoms may last for about 5 to 15 minutes. It starts with a nonspecific prodrome of malaise and irritability, followed by the aura of a focal neurological event, and then a severe throbbing hemicranial headache with photophobia and vomiting. The headache may persist for a long time. Patients should be advised to sit in a dark room and sleep.

Common Migraine: Patients with paroxysmal headaches (with or without vomiting but no aura) are said to have migraine without aura (common migraine). The aura most often takes the form of fortification spectra, which are shimmering, silvery zigzag lines lasting about 20 minutes, sometimes leaving a trail of temporary visual field loss. Limb weakness can occur in migraine, called hemiplegic migraine, and is unusual. In some patients, the focal events may occur by themselves - migraine equivalent. In a smaller number of patients, the symptoms of the aura do not resolve, leaving a more permanent neurological disturbance and complicated migraine.

References:

  • Hutchison’s Clinical Methods – Edited by Michael Glynn, William Drake
  • Davidson’s Principles and Practice of Medicine

Herbs to Treat Migraine:

Kava: Very useful in migraine. It gives a peaceful sedative feeling which helps achieve a deep state of relaxation. Take Kava herbal supplement.

Camellia sinensis (Tea): Relieves muscular and mental fatigue. Possesses anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxant, and antibacterial properties.

  • Reference: Wealth of India, vol 3 rev, 1992, CSIR, 157-160; Indian Materia Medica – KM Nadkarni

Feverfew: This herb is effective in migraine. Clinical research identifies the key active compounds in feverfew as sesquiterpene lactones (STL), with parthenolide being the most important, comprising up to 85% of the total STL content in feverfew. STL is believed to prevent vascular spasm, which causes migraine. It regulates the serotonin mechanism and inhibits the release of histamine and prostaglandin.

Note: People allergic to herbs of the Ragweed family (e.g., marigolds) should not take this herb.

Convolvulus pluricaulis (Shankhapushpi): Effective for anxiety and improving mental function. Take the herbal supplement of this herb.

  • Reference: Singh RH and Mehta AK, 1977; Journal Red Ind Med Yoga and Homelop, 12(3), 18-25, 1977; (12-4), 108, 1979; 14(3-4), 7, 132, 136; Shukla SP, 1981; Probe 20(3), 201.

Coriandrum sativum (Dhaniya): Seeds are considered refrigerant, stomachic, antibilious, and diuretic. They correct confused mental states and are useful in dizziness, relieving cough, morbid thirst, and vomiting. They also help promote eyesight.

  • Reference: Wealth of India, II, CSIR, 1950, 349; Sharma PV, Dravya Guna Vigyan, II, 324; Ayurved Saukhyam, Todarananda, Eng translation by Bhagwan Dash, 1980, 41.

Lavandula stoechas (Ustukhudoos): Known as the "broom of the brain," it helps remove confusion associated with behavioral disturbances, relieves mental fatigue, and controls anxiety, irritability, and depression.

  • Reference: Standardization of Single Drugs of Unani Medicine, Part II, Central Council for Research in Unani Medicine, 1992, 287; Indian Materia Medica I.

Natural Home Remedies:

  • Take a combination of Coriandrum sativum (coriander), Lavandula stoechas, and Prunus amygdalus kernels (almond). Grind this combination with water and add Piper nigrum. Soak the almond in water overnight, then remove the skin before preparing the paste. If the paste is not available, take a herbal supplement containing these herbs. Source: Indian Herbal Therapies – C.P. Khare.
  • Magnesium is required for biochemical reactions in the body. Some studies have found that magnesium reduces the severity and frequency of migraines, though more research is needed. Food sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
  • Take Omega-3 fatty acids. Roy Upton, an herbalist and executive director, suggests taking this.
  • Regular and proper meditation is required.
  • Ginger reduces nausea, vomiting, and vertigo. Drink ginger tea.
  • Take a soft ice pack, wrap it in a towel, and hold it against the patient’s temples and forehead. Alternate the position every few seconds for about 2 minutes.
  • Niacin is useful in migraine. Eat wheat grains, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, nuts, sunflower seeds, and fish.
  • Take spinach, cucumber, and beetroot juice in equal parts.
  • Make a paste of sandalwood (Pterocarpus santalinus or Santalum album) and apply it on the head.
  • Make a paste of cabbage leaves and apply it to the area where there is migraine pain until it becomes dry. Repeat if the pain does not get relieved.

Panchakarma of Ayurveda:

  • The Basti of lukewarm water is also advisable.
  • Take an Ayurvedic therapy, "Nasya," in an authentic Ayurvedic Panchakarma center.

Avoid:

  • Chocolates, cheese, alcohol, unpleasant smells, stress, smoking, and bright light.

Though I have mentioned the quantity of ingredients in some natural home remedies, consult an Ayurvedic physician for the quantity and use of natural home remedies before taking them.